Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Aloha to Key Biscayne - Historic Cape Florida Lighthouse


The crown of Key Biscayne is the historic Cape Florida lighthouses.  From (link),

The Cape Florida lighthouse is one of the most celebrated landmarks owned by the State of Florida. The historic compound in Bill Baggs State Park and Recreation Area includes the newly restored, 95-foot white-brick tower and a replica of the lighthouse keeper's 1825 cottage, delighting visitors as well as residents of this subtropical island of Key Biscayne. Graceful coconut palms line the walkway toward the ocean and grand historic monument.

The original lighthouse and cottage, built in 1825, were attacked and burned in 1836 by Seminole warriors protesting U.S. presence in the South Florida wilderness and resisting deportation from Florida to the West. 

When the lighthouse was rebuilt in 1855-1856, it was extended from 65 feet to its present height, and wooden stairs were replaced with 119 spiraling iron steps to the top.

The lighthouse overshadows another historical marker: 

In 1855, a U.S. Coast Survey team, led by A.D. Bache, the superintendent of the coast Survey, erected two base markers on Key Biscayne. One is located on what is now the golf course. This one was on land 300 ft. south of the lighthouse, but by 1883, it had disappeared into the sea as the shoreline eroded.

In 1988, local professional and surveyors located this marker in 12 ft. of water. Then the U.S. Air Force 301st Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron recovered it. The men of this time thus helped to preserve the remains of another generation´s struggle for excellence in measuring and mapping the earth.

Next - more from Bill Baggs State Park.

Do you have a state park near you?  One randomly selected commenter from this week's blog posts wins a book choice from my convention stash. Comments are open through Saturday, May 28, 10 pm in Baltimore. I'll post the winner on Sunday, May 29, at SOS Aloha.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

My office bags knocks on the lighthouse door ...

Monday, May 23, 2016

Aloha to Key Biscayne - No Name Harbor

After visiting Coral Gables, we traveled across the Rickenbacker Causeway to Key Biscayne. The causeway is named for Eddie Rickenbacker - a WWI fighter ace and Medal of Honor recipient. Key Biscayne is home of the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. From its website (link),

Ponce de Leon named this area 'Cape of Florida' when he led the first Spanish expedition to Florida in 1513. The Cape Florida lighthouse was completed in 1825 but was damaged during the Second Seminole War. The rebuilt tower, completed in 1846, remains the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County. The island served as a secret meeting place and port for runaway slaves and Black Seminoles waiting to rendezvous with sea captains or board dugouts for a passage to safety in the British Bahamas. Although the lighthouse was built to save lives and ships, its unflinching light brought an end to this avenue of escape. In September 2004, Cape Florida was designated a National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Site.

We enjoyed lunch at Boater's Grill overlooking No Name Harbor.

The blue water reminded me of Hawaii.

We spotted a family of iguanas who ran away when people walked to the grill but reappeared when the coast was clear. 

Next - the historic Cape Florida lighthouse.

Can you share an unusual name for a harbor?   Pearl Harbor is Wai Momi (Waters of Pearl) in Hawaiian. One randomly selected commenter from this week's posts wins a book choice from convention stash.  Comments are open through Saturday, May 29, 10 pm in Baltimore. I'll post the winner on Sunday, May 30, at SOS Aloha.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

My office bag enjoys the Florida sunshine.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Aloha to Miami - University of Miami in Coral Gables

As previously mentioned, I grew up in Coral Gables - a suburb of Miami.  I distinctly remember the school bus ride to Ponce De Leon Junior High School. We drove through fraternity row on the edge of UM's campus.  I recall a lion painted a new color every day - I now know the lion guards the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity (I was a SAE Little Sister at the University of Tampa).

UM has a reputation as a party school, but it still promotes academic excellence. From its website (link),

By the fall of 1926, when the first class of 646 full-time students enrolled at the University of Miami, the land boom had collapsed, and hopes for a speedy recovery were dashed by a major hurricane. In the next 15 years the University barely kept afloat. The collapse in South Florida was a mere prelude to a national economic depression. Such were the beginnings of what has since become one of the nation’s most distinguished private universities.

The University survived primarily due to the vision and persistence of its first president, Dr. Bowman F. Ashe (1926-52). Under his administration, the institution overcame bankruptcy, a reorganization, a world war, and then in the post-war years, experienced tremendous growth and expansion.

No doubt Dr. Bowman would appreciate the Fate Bridge pictured in the above two images. 

A mother duck and 10+ goslings enjoy the water under the bridge.

We were pleasantly surprised to discover the Lowe Art Museum.  From its website (link),

The Lowe's success in fulfilling its mission is confirmed by an extraordinary and ongoing outpouring of support for the museum and its collections. With the gift in 1950 by philanthropists Joe and Emily Lowe, a free-standing museum facility opened to the public in 1952, the first art museum in South Florida. Its 17,500–object collection is one of the most important in the southeast, with strengths in Renaissance and Baroque, American, Ancient and Native American, and Asian art.

We only made a brief visit to the campus ... so much more to explore on another trip! Have you visited a university campus near you? One randomly selected commenter from this week's blog posts wins a book choice from my convention stash. Comments are open through Saturday, May 21, 10 pm in Baltimore. I'll post the winner on Sunday, May 22.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

The father duck on the prowl ... 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Aloha to Miami - Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables

Next stop in Coral Gables, the historic Biltmore Hotel. From its website (link),

As the creator of Coral Gables, land developer George E. Merrick founded the University of Miami, and developed the suburbs with strict building codes to ensure the beautiful surrounding. In 1924, young Merrick joined forces with Biltmore hotel magnate John McEntee Bowman at the height of the Florida land boom to build “a great hotel…which would not only serve as a hostelry to crowds which were thronging to Coral Gables but also would serves as a center of sports and fashion.”

On November 25, 1924, 200 of Miami’s business and civic leaders, as well as the press gathered for a dinner to celebrate the new partnership. Bowman announced that the $10 million project would include a 400- room hotel, a country club, a service building, a championship golf course, polo fields, tennis courts and an enormous 150 by 225 foot swimming pool. The 18-hole golf course, designed by premier golf course architect Donald Ross was first to open debuting in January 1925.

Finally, on January 15, 1926, the Miami Biltmore Country Club debuted with a magnificent gala opening that promised to be the social event of the year. The leading socialites of the Northeast came down on trains marked "Miami Biltmore Specials." As champagne flowed and guests fox‐trotted to the strains of three orchestras, one led by famed bandleader Paul Whiteman, the Biltmore’s Giralda Tower was lit for the first time and could be seen from miles around. An overflow crowd of 1,500 guests attended the opening dinner‐dance, and a landmark era in South Florida history began.

We took the elevator to the top floor, which turned out to be entrance to the Penthouse suite. Obviously, we did not have a key to the suite, but we found this vintage phone ...

... and a bird's eye view of the golf course.

Back in the lobby, I noticed the faded stars in the vaulted ceilings (reminding me of Roslyn Chapel in the Da Vinci Code  movie).

The side passage guarded by a gargoyle added a Gothic element.

How about a head of coral?

Or a grand buffet from a time gone by? I have similar buffet from Belgium which is less grand but still beautiful.

Have you visited a grand and/or historic hotel?  One randomly selected commenter from this week's blogs wins a book choice from my convention stash.  Comments are open through Saturday, May 21, 10 pm in Baltimore. I'll post the winner on Sunday, May 22, at SOS Aloha (link).


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

My office tote bag at the Biltmore

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Aloha to Miami - The Venetian Pool in Coral Gables

Last week, I visited my "home town" of Coral Gables, a suburb of Miami. I lived in Coral Gables until high school ... so this was a trip down memory lane. First stop - the Venetian Pool.  From its website (link),

The pool was created in 1923 from a coral rock quarry, where much of the original coral rock was used to border and further accentuate the pool. It also features two large historic lookout towers, with a view to the City Beautiful.

The 820,000 gallon pool is fed with spring water from an underground aquifer. In the spring and summer seasons, the pool is filled and drained daily!

Of course the aquifer is not the only feature that enhances a visitor’s experience. There are two waterfalls that provide a scenic backdrop as well as the cave-like grottos which provide a fun experience for swimmers.

The Venetian pool was opened in 1924 as the “Venetian Casino,” which was part of the Grand Plan George Merrick had for the City of Coral Gables. His vision for his city was to embody a sense of true hometown living.

George Merrick envisioned creating a City with Mediterranean features such as grand entrances, plazas, and Mediterranean style homes. The limestone which was taken from the Venetian Pool quarry pit was used to create some of the original neighboring buildings.

With the efforts of George Merrick, artist Denman Fink, and architect Phineas Paist, the pool was transformed into a paradise that today is included in the National Register of Historic Places, the only swimming pool to have such a designation.

In its early days, the “Venetian Casino” was the destination for many celebrities, including such movie stars as Johnny Weismuller (above) and Esther Williams. The pool was also a site for orchestrated concerts, in which the pool was emptied of its 820,000 gallons of water and the orchestra would perform on the pool bottom. Many years later in 2001, this scene was duplicated as a concert which was held on the bottom of the pool to commemorate the City of Coral Gables’ 75th Birthday.

I spent many summers at the Venetian Pool!  Do you have a favorite watering hole? One randomly selected commenter from this week's blog posts wins a book choice from my convention stash. Comments are open through Saturday, May 21, 10 pm in Baltimore. I'll post the winner on Sunday, May 22.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Thursday, March 24, 2016

E Komo Mai - Welcome to Aloha on My Mind (Bio and Contact)

After meeting Barbara Vey last week (link), I realized I needed to update all my blogs with a short bio and contact info.  

From the Sunshine State to the Chesapeake Bay, I have been blessed with the opportunity to sample many cultures. I grew up in Miami, attended high school in Clearwater, and graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics from the University of Tampa. My commission in the United States Air Force led to assignments in Boston, Germany, the Pentagon, and Illinois, thus feeding my love of international travel.  

I traded my dog tags for a diaper bag, becoming a mother to two boys (and four cats) while following my military husband to the Netherlands, Baltimore, Pearl Harbor, and back to Baltimore. Along the way, we have traveled throughout Europe, Egypt, Japan, Korea, and China.

I created this blog while living in Hawaii as a means to share the Aloha Spirit with romance readers who follow my book blog, SOS Aloha.  I now live outside Baltimore, bringing the Aloha Spirit to Charm City ... plus pictures from anywhere I travel.

I enjoy dark chocolate, long walks, and historic places.

Connect with me ....




Book Blog - SOS Aloha,

Travel Blog - Aloha On My Mind,

Virtual Consultant - Aloha Author Assistant,


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Aloha to Puerto Rico - Isle of Enchantment

Fort San Felipe del Morro in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Public Domain (link)

This week I am featuring places I will visit this year.  On Tuesday, we chatted about San Diego at this link.  Today we chat about Puerto Rico where hubby and I will spend our 20th anniversary in the fall.

I lived in Puerto Rico for three years as a toddler - I have no memory of the tropical isle.  But I am intrigued by the Spanish heritage and natural beauty.  Here are some sights to see ....

Castillo San Felipe del Morro:  From the National Park Service (link),

Castillo San Felipe del Morro, (El Morro) sits atop a high promontory overlooking the entrance to the San Juan Bay. It is the result of the efforts of Spanish engineers over a period of more than 250 years and is one of the largest fortifications built by the Spain in the Caribbean. Although its foundation was laid in 1539, the six-level fortification was not considered complete until 1787. 

Castillo San Felipe del Morro from El Cañuelo
Public Domain (link)

El Yunque National Forest:  From USDA Forest Service (link),

A visit to the El Yunque National Forest is a special experience. We are the only tropical rainforest in the National Forest System. Only in El Yunque can you see the giant tree ferns and tropical birds such as the Puerto Rican Parrot. Only from El Yunque can you enjoy vistas of both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Four images from around the forest: tropical flower, parrots, tropical trees, brick tower

Old San Juan: From the National Park Service (link),

The Viejo San Juan on the island of Puerto Rico was reluctantly founded by the famous Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León in 1519. With time, thanks to its advantageous geographic location, the center flourished and became the punta de lanza (point of the spear) of the Spanish Empire in the Americas.

Aerial view of Fort San Felipe del Morro and Old San Juan
Aerial view of Old San Juan
Public Domain (link)

What do you know about Puerto Rico?  One randomly selected commenter from this week's blog posts wins a book choice from my convention stash.  Comments are open through Saturday, February 27, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, February 28.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

1766 map of San Juan
Public Domain (link)